Tuesday, July 27, 2010

HELP! Baking Substitutions

I'm sure we have all been there before.  You decide to bake something and half way through realize you are out of something that the recipe calls for.  I know it happens to me, actually a lot more than I like to admit.  While sometimes the only answer is a quick run to the corner grocery, there are times when a substitution can be just what you needed.  There are a few things that I don't like to try and substitute, they are baking soda and baking powder, I don't ever try and use one for the other and really there is no substitute for these, unless you want to risk some flat baked goods.  Also making sure that they are fresh is important.  But for most other common items there is a substitute available.  So why do I bring this up now?  Well Sunday morning saw me with a need for pancakes, from scratch.  I was sure we had everything.  Wrong.  With half of the ingredients in the bowl I realized I only had a cup of milk left and about three tablespoons of butter.  Uh-oh.  These pancakes were getting made, I had promised them and nothing, I mean nothing was going to have me dragging two kids to the store first thing in the morning.  So I improvised.  Water for the rest of the milk, oil for the butter.  They tasted the same, I could not tell a bit of difference.  So it got me thinking about other substitutes and I figured if I need them so do you.  So I have put together a handy little list of common substitutes to help you out with any baking crisis.  Also check out the pancake recipe too, so yummy.

Cornstarch- 1 tbs= 2 tbs flour

Balsamic Vinegar- 1 tbs. = 1 tbs cider vinegar + 1 tsp white sugar

Brown Sugar- 2 tbs. molasses + 1 c. white sugar

Butter- 1 c. = 7/8 c. vegetable oil, for salted butter add 1 tsp salt

Buttermilk- 1 c. = 1 tbs lemon juice or vinegar plus 1 c. regular milk

Chocolate- 1 square(1oz) unsweetened chocolate= 3 tbs cocoa plus 1 tbs butter

Corn Syrup Dark- 1 c.= 3/4c. light corn syrup + 1/4 c. molasses

Corn Syrup Light- 1 c. = 1 c. honey OR 1 c. white sugar + 1/4 c. water

Cream (heavy)- 1 c. = 3/4 c. milk + 1/3 c. butter

Cream of Tarter- 1 tsp = 2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar

Egg-  1 egg = 3 tbs. mayonnaise OR half a banana mashed with 1/2 tsp baking powder OR 1 tbs baking powder + 1 tbs oil + 1 tbs warm water OR 1 tbs baking powder + 1 tbs apple cider vinegar + 1 tbs warm water

Garlic- 1 clove garlic= 1/8 tsp garlic powder

Herbs- 1 tbs fresh= 1 tsp dried

Hot Sauce-  1 tbs = 1 tsp cayenne + 2 tsp vinegar

Milk- 1 c. = 3/4 c. water + 3 tbs butter or oil.

Oil-  1 c. oil= 1 c. applesauce OR 1 c. Sour cream OR 1 c. yogurt

Pumpkin Pie Spice-  1 tsp= 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp cloves, 1/8 tsp allspice, 1/8 tsp ginger

Sour Cream-  1 c. = 1 c. yogurt

Wine- 1 c. = 1 c. apple juice

Pancake Recipe
3 c. flour
7 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar (I used stevia)
2 1/2 c. milk ( I used 1 c. milk plus 1 1/2 c. water)
2 eggs
6 tbs melted butter ( I used 3 tbs butter and 3 tbs oil)
mix up until just blended, mix will be lumpy.  I like my batter a little thinner so I add another tbs water to thin it out.  Spoon a laddle at a time into a hot greased pan or griddle, flip when you see bubbles (apprx 1 min).  cook other side for 30 seconds and remove with a spatula onto a plate.  This recipe makes 4 big portion or six smaller ones.

I hope this list comes in handy.  Now I'm off to make dinner, looking at those pancakes has made me hungry!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dreams of Fall

I am longing for Autumn and cooler, lazier days.  You know that saying 'The lazy days of summer', well whatever.  Summer means no free time in my experience.  With two kids at home, tons of yard work and all of the summer events, we have no time.  Today I found myself wishing I could fast forward just a bit, because I really want to decorate/finish some rooms in my house and I know I won't  have time to do the work until fall gets here.  The main room in my sites is our down stairs bathroom.  It sucks.  I mean really.  It's a long cave like room with crappy lighting and a sink mounted to the wall with all of the pipes hanging out, no storage and poorly laid cheap white tile on the floors that looks nasty.  The wall color is about the only thing I like, it's a pretty blue.  With that said let me give a little background about our home sweet home.  We bought this house almost three years ago.  It was built in the 1920's and had been allowed to go into sever disrepair by the owners.  Some how they lost the house and it was bought at auction by a contractor.  He "renovated" it and sold it to us.  You'll notice that renovate was in quotation marks.  That's because all of the work was done by some scary hillbillies that obviously had no idea what they were doing.  After we moved in, I would say within a month the floor in the kitchen started cracking, we discovered that none of the tile floors had ever been sealed (try getting that grout clean), the floor in the laundry room started coming up and the walls started cracking where they had done a poor job patching it.  Fun right?  Being that we moved in with a baby who was only a few weeks old and no money, there wasn't a lot we could do about it.  So far all we have done is fix Bug's room and paint it and I just yanked up all of the flooring in the laundry room.  We have done tons of outside stuff, because we live on a forested acre that doesn't take kindly to being ignored.  It's a constant battle to keep from being overgrown.  So, where was I?  Oh yeah, I'm going to do some stuff this fall, I can't take it any more, even if I have to do everything myself, it's going to happen.  Oh and it has to be cheap, like crazy cheap.  So I am making a little inspiration post to help keep me on track and so my husband can see what the heck I am talking about.

These are the floors I want.  I'm going to do either the whitewash Pergo or the driftwood Pergo.

I really want to find an old dresser that I can turn into a vanity, it would save a lot of money and be a lot better quality than the vanities in my price range at Lowe's.  I may paint it white.

See that super dreamy mirror collection, I would love to do something similar on the wall opposite the vanity.

I'd love to find a vintage quilt rack like this to keep towels on.

This room is just perfect in my opinion.  Unfortunately we have a half bath, no tub, no window and no room.  Sigh.

Love this bath rug from Target.

This is a wall box made from old shutters, I would love to make something like this to hang above the toilet for more storage.

Love this trash basket, they have bathroom accessories to match at Amazon.

I really love this chandelier from Lowes.

So that's about it.  Big fluffy white towels, maybe a cute white birdcage to sit on the vanity.  Hopefully most of this stuff can be found at yard sales and via Craigslist with the exception of the floor and rug.  So any good suggestions for my bathroom makeover?


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oh Bother, A Pooh Dress And Pattern Review

Last week I set about to make a little present for a special  friend of mine's 2nd birthday.  I've been hoarding this sweet Winnie the Pooh fabric for years.  It's not the kind of stuff I usually buy, I'm not really one for character fabric.  I thought this was cute though when I bought it, I like the colors and it was printed with a pooh border at the bottom and the flowers got gradually bigger at the top so I treated it as three kinds of fabric, the bottom, middle and top.  I used the bottom border for the skirt of the dress, the smaller flowers for the bodice and the bigger flowers for the handles of the purse.  I used a pattern bought at a yard sale for this jumper and wanted to give a little review, I made McCalls 8495 I'm sure this pattern is out of print, but could be purchased from Ebay.  The dress itself went together very smoothly, one of the easiest I've ever done.  The pockets another story all together.  They are patch pockets that have a tie at the top.  I swear the instructions pretty much just say sew them together.  I had to stare at them for a good hour before I finally figured out how they went together.  That drives me crazy on patterns, when they show detailed drawings and instructions for the simplest things and then just glaze over the hardest part of the pattern.  Sheesh!  Anyway, I used another pattern for a sun hat, Mccalls 5084.  It went together really easy, but the pattern sizing was a big problem.  I ended up having to remove an entire section of the crown to make it fit the brim, with the extra crown section in the crown was far too large for my six year old..  I also made a cute little purse to go with it.  I don't have a pattern, but here is a link to the process. When it was all said and done, I was pretty proud of how it turned out, sewing for little girls is fun.  I wish Sweets would wear stuff I made!  Best compliment received was from the husband who said, "it looks professional"  when I showed him the finished dress!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Homemade Granola

The husband and I love granola.  We eat it every morning.  He likes a sprinkle on top of his oatmeal and I like mine with vanilla yogurt and some fruit.  The thing I can't get over is how crazy expensive it is.  We buy ours at Aldi's and it still is twice what cereal cost.   I made granola bars once before and they were easy and delicious, you can find the recipe here.  So after figuring out what would go in a basic granola I realized it should be really cheap to make a bunch.  Most of the basic ingredients you might already have.  You can pretty much add whatever nuts, seeds, and dried fruits that you like and pick your favorite liquid sweetener, I use honey, but maple syrup, agave and molasses are also good options.  I used canola oil as oil is traditional in most recipes to help bind it together, I have seen some recipes that call for fruit juice and I'll probably try that at some point.  The basic formula for making your own granola is 1 part oil, 1 part liquid sweetener, 4 parts grains, 1 part fruit, 1 part nuts/seeds.  You can of course add more or less to taste.  The oil and liquid sweetener need to stay pretty close to this ratio if you want to have clumps.

Here is my basic recipe

4 c. whole oats
1 c. canola oil
1 c. wheat germ
1 c. honey
4 tbs brown sugar
4 tbs. splenda
1 c. raw almonds
1 c dried cherries
1 tbs cinnamon
( I added 1 c. of dried sweetened coconut to half of this batch)

mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and put on a baking sheet with sides in a single layer, for this amount I baked it in three batches.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Stir the mixture every five minutes.  Let cool.  Store in airtight container.  You can freeze this too.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I haven't done much photography lately but this week I got to take some pictures of my beautiful niece and sister and brother in law.  Their first family pictures.  It was fun but way hot.  Even though I don't do it much any more I still love photography, what I don't love is how back breaking it can be.  I think most people imagine being a photographer just involves holding a camera and snapping pics.  The truth is you may have to hold that five pound camera for hours in 100 degree weather, on your knees, back, stomach, on the dirt, on the concrete, whatever it takes to get the shot.  When I worked in a studio it was the most grueling job I've ever had.  My knees were covered in bruises constantly and I can tell you that after doing a wedding shoot for 5 or 6 hours your back, neck and feet are screaming.  But anyway I still do love it just not as a job, and really how can you not love results like these?


Friday, July 9, 2010


With temperatures at nearly a hundred this past week heavy foods have not been on my mind.  This is what I have been eating for breakfast and sometimes lunch and dinner.  Vanilla yogurt with an assortment of fresh fruit and granola.  Right now I'm baking a giant batch of homemade granola, so look for that recipe in the next day or two.  What are your go to meals when the temps soar?


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Husband is Pretty Crafty Too.

Or at least handy.  I always show you my handy work or occasionally the kids, but what about the husband?  Well he always has a least a few projects going on and I repeatedly find myself feeling grateful that he is so handy.  Living in an old house on a good size yard (1 acre)  we are never without something that needs repairing, sprucing up, cut down or replaced.  We rarely call a repair man any more.  Over the years the husband has taught himself how to do pretty much everything you can think of.  He fixes the air conditioning, the car, the leaky basement, landscapes, plumbing issues, the pool, the computer and everything in between.  As we speak he is outside battling nearly 100 degree weather trying to fix our central air and an hour before that he was removing the alternator from one of our cars.  I'm sure a lot of people wouldn't call this crafty, but I think it takes a really creative mind to be able to figure all that stuff out. 

 So I wanted to share with you one of the projects he finished over the holiday weekend.  When we moved into our house the front had some massive flower beds that were very poorly landscaped, with plants that were far too large for flower beds (crepe myrtles) and pretty much everything was just done really shabby.  The landscape fabric was coming up and it was on a slope with nothing to contain the mulch so it all washed away.  Finally in our third year here we got around to fixing it.  The husband found a lot of rock on our property and used it to create a smaller bed, bought some other rocks and made a second tiered bed and then planted and mulched those areas and filled in the remaining space with sod.  

It makes our house look a million times better and I am so proud of him and all the hard work he does.  This was really back breaking work in hot weather and he even tolerated "help" from Sweets and Bug, he's the best.  I wish I had some before pictures but we of course didn't think to take them, just imagine a giant over grown mess :)

I love you babe, seriously you are the best.  Thanks for all you do.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Belated 4th of July

Hey everyone.  I hope you had a great, long holiday weekend.  We sure did.  I had meant to post this a few days ago but for some reason Blogger was acting up and I was unable to log in.  But better late than never, right?  So our weekend was filled to the brim with activity, it was both fun and exhausting and you'll probably be seeing posts about it for the next week!  But first things first.  On the 2nd we hosted our annual fireworks party.  We have one every year and the date coincides with the church next door's big fireworks show.  So we have some friends over, make lots of food and drink some cold beers.  It's a great day.  This year the weather was perfect, the company even better and the fireworks spectacular.

I worked all day Thursday baking and decorating and rediscovered my love of making sugar cookies and decorating them.  This is something I plan on doing a lot more often in the future.  I also made red, white and blue cupcakes, a lemon- cherry layer cake and a few cute decorations.  I admit that I didn't make nearly as many of the decorations as I had originally planned on, but time got short and I found some cute stuff to buy.   Anyway, Happy belated 4th of July everyone!